July 09: Needs Analysis and Teacher Training
Dear NeltaChoutari Readers,
Let us post our Choutari and other ELT discussions on blog form, because this platform will make our interaction globally accessible and help us join the global ELT professional community as well.
Below are some quick comments on the article attached on Nelta Mail: “Implementing ELT Innovations: A Needs Analysis Framework” by Waters and Vilches. In case you didn’t get to read that article in full, these brief remarks should help you post a response here.
One great point raised by Waters and Vilches article is that of giving teachers the sense of ownership in implementing any curricular innovation: “… the trainers’ role is not simply to ‘teach’ the content of the innovation, but to maximize the potential for ownership of the innovation by the teachers” (139). When teachers are given training in a new approach or methods, it is extremely important to make them feel that the method/approach benefits them, makes sense to them, and motivates them to take the new challenges involved. Teachers ultimately implement the innovation at the level of the classroom, so if they don’t feel a sense of ownership, and therefore satisfaction, the new pedagogy will remain an idea, an obligation, or a misunderstood something.
Another important issue the article considers is the need to take into account not only the interest of teachers who implement the innovation, or the administration that makes the innovation possible on a larger scale, but also students and a whole spectrum of stakeholders in the process of making the innovation in curriculum and pedagogy.
A third point worth our discussion in this article is that of the need for educating teachers about the rationale for the innovation, and not just train them with new skills or content: “Any attempt to change the curriculum—whether indirectly through changes in teaching materials, for example, or more directly, through changes in teaching methods—implies a need for teacher learning, i.e. opportunities for teachers to learn about the rationale for the new form of teaching, to critically evaluate, and understand how to get the best out of it” (137). The Choutari team looks at discussions that we are having on NELTA mail as motivated by that particular need to discuss ELT issues at the conceptual level. But at the same time, we urge readers/contributors to relate the general/theoretical readings and posts to practical classroom teaching as much as possible because what we all want is a balance of concept and practice.
Based on the article, let us extend the great discussion on the issue of Needs Analysis and Teacher Training raised by Kate’s initial call for feedback and the following series of posts. The issue of training and innovation in ELT in general, or that of how to make new ideas and approaches to ELT productive in the classroom as well as relevant to our local society in particular, is potentially inexhaustible. We certainly haven’t had enough discussion on this subject, and we hope to hear more from you.
Finally, here is one specific issue that has come up in our discussion since last month but hasn’t been followed up very much. On the issue of teaching basic sounds to beginners, Nepalese ELT community obviously needs to think in terms of thorough innovation: there is a need to make a paradigm shift from teaching letter names to teaching sounds at the same time or subsequently, from teaching words starting with letters to teaching words that represent sounds, and from teaching only pronunciation of words to enabling students to “hear” the unique sounds and then produce them with the correct (approximate) vocal features. Specifically, this would mean something like teaching a beginner not the “A for ‘e-pal’…” but A-æ, as in “apple”; A-a:, as in “arm”; A-Ə, as in “Anil”; B-b, as in “boy”; etc). The innovation, to connect this problem with the issue in the article, should start by familiarizing teachers with the concept that English letters DO (most often) correspond to particular sounds, within the sound system of the language (against the myth that they do not, or rarely do so). The Waters and Vilches article makes that great point in its conceptual framework of needs analysis that includes both horizontal and vertical layers of issues to be addressed by any training or innovation project in education.
Besides the scholarly article, there are also the following items in this issue:
b. Teacher anecdote (by Dhruba Neupane)
c. ELT resource on the web (videos on pronunciation):
d. ELT humour (funny videos about pronunciation):
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